Thursday, 14 February 2019

The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard - Book Birthday Blog Blitz Q & A

Was this what really happened to Romeo & Juliet?
Think you know the world’s most famous love story?  Think again. What if the story of Romeo & Juliet really happened – but not quite in the way we’ve all been told?
This part-prequel, part-sequel to the original tale, told from the point of view of the Friar, tells how an ancient Italian manuscript reveals secrets and lies which have remained hidden for hundreds of years, and casts new doubts on the official story of Shakespeare’s famous star-crossed lovers.
If you love the Romeo & Juliet story but are disappointed with the way it ended, this is the book for you.
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  1. What was the inspiration for this book?

I’ve always loved the story of Romeo & Juliet but have been sadly disappointed with the way it ended.   I wanted there to be an alternative version of the story, in which the lovers don’t fall victim to a maddeningly-preventable catastrophe.

The book is a part-prequel, part-sequel to the Shakespeare play, and is told from the point of view of the Friar (Friar Lawrence in the original, Fra’ Lorenzo in my version).  I’ve always been fascinated by his character, and I’ve often wondered why, in the play, he behaves as he does. By giving him what I hope is an interesting and thought-provoking backstory, I’ve tried to offer some possible answers.

  1. What research did you need to do for this book? How do you find the research process?

Obviously I had to study the play in some depth.  As the main character in my book is the Friar, I also needed to research life in a monastery – and as he is an expert on herbal remedies I also had to learn some basic herb-lore.  The whole research process is fascinating – a real thief of time!

  1. How do you create your characters, do you ever base them on real people?

In the case of The Ghostly Father I already had an established cast of characters, which was rather easier than having to pull ideas out of the air.  But I did enjoy developing some of the characters who barely step out of the shadows in the original play. Not just the Friar, but also the Prince of Verona, Rosaline, and Romeo’s cousin Benvolio (who disappears halfway through the play with no explanation).

  1. What is next for you in your writing career?

I’m currently working on my sixth novel.  This is a spin-off story from my second novel, Nice Girls Don’t (a story about a search for family secrets).  I also have an ongoing poetry project based on the works of Shakespeare, but that’s been on the go for quite a while…

  1. Who has inspired you most in your life?

My husband – he is wonderfully supportive and tolerates my weirdness with good grace.

  1. Have you won any awards or been nominated for any?

Not for fiction (though I live in hope!), but a few years ago I was fortunate enough to win a major poetry award from Writing Magazine.

  1. How do you work on creating the perfect (for you) writing/life balance? Any tips for aspiring authors?

If I ever find the answer to your first point, I’ll let you know – but don’t stay in specially waiting!  As to your second, my answer is: just write. Get the words down – they don’t have to be perfect at first.  You can always go back afterwards and improve what you’ve written, but you can’t edit a blank page.

  1. Do you listen to music when writing? If so what is your preferred genre/band/artist?

I don’t listen to music whilst I’m writing; I find it too much of a distraction.  Having said that, I quite often get ideas when I’m listening to music whilst I’m away from my computer.  On a number of occasions the solution to a writing dilemma has come to mind during a classical concert.

  1. If you were stranded on a desert island and only had access to one author’s works, whose would it be?
I’ve thought long and hard about this one, and I think my answer would have to be Terry Pratchett.  The man was an absolute genius, and it breaks my heart to think there will now be no more from the same pen.  (Presumably I don’t already have the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare…?)
  1. And finally a penguin walks into the room where you are sitting wearing a sombrero and a superhero cape. What does he say and why is he there?
“Is this the way to Gotham City?”  (He’s taken a wrong turning somewhere in the South Atlantic.)

Author Bio –

Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet.  She was born in North Wales some time during the last millennium, but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester.  After graduating from Durham University she had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase “Non-Working Mother” would be banned from the English language.
Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled questions for BBC Radio 4's fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as "professionally weird." The label has stuck.
Sue speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.  She is also very interested in family history. Her own background is far stranger than any work of fiction; she would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.  
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